Beef farmers around the world were facing similar difficult market conditions to those in the UK, as global prime cattle prices struggled to match last year’s levels.
According to the latest analysis by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Scottish prime cattle prices were 12 per cent lower than last year after lacking direction for the majority of the summer and drifting lower in the past few weeks.
But Stuart Ashworth, QMS director of economics services, highlighted Scottish farmers were not the only ones facing difficult market conditions.
“American beef producers are currently receiving 7 per cent lower prices than a year ago while across the EU, average producer prices are 10 per cent lower for prime steers and 5 per cent lower for prime heifers,” he said.
However, currency was providing a boost in South America. While prices were down when quoted in US dollars, Brazilian prices in local currency were about 5 per cent higher.
Mr Ashworth added: “The dramatic weakening of the Argentinean currency over the past month means that in local currency, Argentinean producers currently benefit from prices nearly 50 per cent higher than a year ago.”
Australia was also benefiting from weaker exchange rates.
Unusually, producer prices in many places had slipped despite lower production with both EU and US production down.
But in the UK, lower weekly kills have been offset by increased carcase weights, increasing the volume of beef produced. Imports have been significantly lower than last year.
During the week ending September 14, GB cattle prices continued to drop with the all-prime average down 1.8 pence per kilogram at 323p/kg, according to AHDB.
Rebecca Obourne, AHDB red meat analyst, said all categories recorded declines although heifers were sharper than steers.
Drops were also recorded across all regions but were ‘more muted’ in the south.
Industry reports suggested strikes in Ireland were causing some uplift in demand in GB.
“However, any increase in processor demand may need to be taken with some caution; presumably, cattle not killed now will come forwards eventually,” said Ms Obourne.
“There has also been some industry talk of some abattoirs dropping maximum carcase weights.”